Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Centuries Passed

The Florida Baptist Witness has an editorial by its Executive Editor, James A. Smith Sr., asking that the Florida Board of Education ignore all the scientific and educational expertise that has been consulted by its Framers' Committee on the new standards and, instead, implement standards as bad (for the moment, at least) as those in some other states:

Minnesota students must "be able to explain how scientific and technological innovations as well as new evidence can challenge portions of or entire accepted theories and models including … [the] theory of evolution." In New Mexico, students will "critically analyze the data and observations supporting the conclusion that the species living on Earth today are related by descent from the ancestral one-celled organisms." In South Carolina, students must "summarize ways that scientists use data from a variety of sources to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."
Mr. Smith claims:

[F]ew opponents of the proposed science standards are requesting the addition of creationism or Intelligent Design in the standards. Exposing students to serious, scholarly critiques of Darwinian evolution is all that is asked for from most critics of the standards. Such an approach to teaching evolution is hardly unique or unprecedented.
In support of this assault on the education of Florida children, Mr. Smith drags out the lifeless body of the Discovery Institute's "Dissent from Darwinism" list of 700+ mostly-non-biologists, who are willing to lend their names to the campaign to miseducate young people. But as Mr. Smith notes, the statement only asserts that:

We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.
But the standards as they are now already address all the scientific challenges to the notion that mutation and natural selection account for all the complexity of life. Benchmark SC.912.L.15.14 in the Grade 9 – 12 "Life Science Body Of Knowledge" standards (p. 89) reads:

Discuss mechanisms of evolutionary change other than natural selection such as genetic drift and gene flow.
If no one wants ID or creationism taught and the standards already address the scientific proposals for other mechanisms driving evolution, just what other "serious, scholarly critiques of Darwinian evolution" are there? Outside the scientific controversies already raised in the standards, who, other than IDeologists and creationists, thinks there is any "controversy about Darwinian evolution" that students should learn about?

The editorial does have a couple of good suggestions though:

The seven-member Florida Board of Education will have the deciding vote on the new standards at a Feb. 19 meeting in Tallahassee. Citizens interested in expressing their views to the Board will find a listing of the members, along with contact information at the Florida Department of Education Web site: www.fldoe.org/board.

Concerned citizens may also express their views at a final public hearing to be chaired by Education Commissioner Eric Smith scheduled for Feb. 11, 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport.
By all means, those who don't want to see Florida's children getting a 19th instead of a 21st century education should attend the hearing if they can and should contact the individual board members urging them to put the welfare of education in the state above the politically easy course.

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